Molnár’s research focuses on understanding how culture becomes political. Her work explores the intersections of culture, politics, social change and knowledge production in Eastern Europe, with special focus on urban culture, the built environment and material culture. She has written about architecture and state formation in socialist and postsocialist Eastern Europe, the post-1989 reconstruction of Berlin, and the new housing landscape of postsocialist cities. More recently, she examined the impact of street art on the urban public sphere in New York, Berlin and Budapest, as well as the right-wing radicalisation of civil society in Hungary.
As an UvA professor, Molnár will engage in research on the cultural production of populism. Her new book explores radical nationalist consumer culture in Hungary, focusing on fashion, heritage tourism, martial arts and book publishing. She probes how markets serve as important vehicles for promoting new interpretations of national identity and circulating nationalist symbols, thereby fostering popular support for nationalist radicalisation. She will also continue to work on cities and the built environment, examining the place of large housing estates in Eastern European urban centres, the politics of urban rodent control, and architects’ changing understandings of sustainability.
At the UvA, Molnár will teach in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Sociology and Urban Studies and supervise students in their research.
Since 2008, Molnár has worked at the New School for Social Research in New York, initially as an assistant professor, and since 2015, as an associate professor. She previously worked at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. She received her PhD from Princeton University in 2005.
She is the author of the book Building the State: Architecture, Politics and State Formation in Postwar Central Europe, which received the Mary Douglas prize for best book in the sociology of culture from the American Sociological Association. Her work has also appeared in leading peer-reviewed social science and interdisciplinary journals, including the American Sociological Review, the Academy of Management Journal, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Studies, and Public Culture. She has held visiting fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University, Humboldt Universität in Berlin, and the American Academy in Berlin. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, among others. She is also a member of the Executive Council of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics.